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robertogreco : jamesauger   7

SpeculativeEdu | Superflux: Tools and methods for making change
"Anab Jain and Jon Ardern of Superflux (“a studio for the rapidly changing world”) talk to James Auger about their approach, their recent projects, and their educational activities.

Superflux create worlds, stories, and tools that provoke and inspire us to engage with the precarity of our rapidly changing world. Founded by Anab Jain and Jon Ardern in 2009, the Anglo-Indian studio has brought critical design, futures and foresight approaches to new audiences while working for some of the world’s biggest organisations like Microsoft Research, Sony, Samsung and Nokia, and exhibiting work at MoMA New York, the National Museum of China, and the V&A in London. Over the last ten years, the studio has gained critical acclaim for producing work that navigates the entangled wilderness of our technology, politics, culture, and environment to imagine new ways of seeing, being, and acting. The studio’s partners and clients currently include Government of UAE, Innovate UK, Cabinet Office UK, Red Cross, UNDP, Mozilla and Forum for the Future. Anab is also Professor at Design Investigations, University of Applied Arts, Vienna.

[Q] You practice across numerous and diverse fields (education, commercial, gallery). Does your idea of speculative design change for each of these contexts? How do you balance the different expectations of each?

We don’t tend to strictly define our work as “Speculative Design”. Usually we say we are designers or artists or filmmakers. Speculative Design is gaining traction lately, and we might have a client of two who knows the term and might even hire us for that, but usually they come to us because they want to explore a possible future or a different narrative, or investigate a technology. We think our work investigates a potential rather than speculating on a future. Speculation is an undeniable part of the process but it is not the primary motivation behind our work. Our work is an open-ended process of enquiry, whilst speculation can at times feel like a closed loop.

[Q] There is a tendency, in many speculative design works, towards dystopian futures. It seems that as with science fiction, apocalyptic futures are easier to imagine and tell as stories. Focusing on your CCCB installation, Mitigation of Shock, how would you describe this project in terms of its value connotation? What is the purpose of such a project?

For us, Mitigation of Shock is actually not apocalyptic at all, but instead a pragmatic vision of hope, emerging from a dystopian future ravaged by climate change. On a personal level, it can be difficult for people to imagine how an issue like global warming might affect everyday life for our future selves, or generations to come. Our immersive simulation merges the macabre and the mundane as the social and economic consequences of climate change infiltrate the domestic space.

The installation transports people decades into the future (or perhaps even closer on the horizon), into an apartment in London which has been drastically adapted for living with the consequences of climate catastrophe. Familiar, yet alien. A domestic space alive with multispecies inhabitants, surviving and thriving together in an indoor microcosm. Climate projections from the beginning of the century have unfurled into reality, their consequences reverberating across the globe. Climate catastrophes shatter global supply chains. Economic and political fragility, social fragmentation, and food insecurity destabilise society.

Rather than optimistically stick our heads in the sand, or become overwhelmed with fear, we decided to catapult ourselves and others directly into a specific geographical and cultural context to experience the ripple effects of extreme weather conditions. Hope often works best alongside tools for proactively tackling future challenges. Which is why, in this year-long experimental research project, we explored, designed and built an apartment located in a future no one wants, but that may be on the horizon. Not to scare, or overwhelm, but to help people critically reflect upon their actions in the present, and introduce them to potential solutions for living in such a future. The evidence in the apartment may reflect a different future, but all the food apparatus was in fully working condition, no speculation there. We wanted to demonstrate that we have the tools and methods we need to make the change today.

[Q] We are living in complicated times – politically, environmentally, culturally. After several years of speculative and critical design evolution, do you think that it can have a more influential role in shaping futures/alternatives beyond the discussions that typically take place in the design community?

We wrote a little bit about this here: https://medium.com/superfluxstudio/stop-shouting-future-start-doing-it-e036dba17cdc.

[Q] Could it adopt more political or activist role? If so, how could this aspect be incorporated into education?

Yes definitely. Our latest project Trigger Warning explores this very space: https://mod.org.au/exhibits/trigger-warning. And then a completely different project: http://superflux.in/index.php/work/future-of-democracy-algorithmic-power/#temp.

[Anab] Also my students at the Angewandte will be exploring the theme of “futures of democracy” in the upcoming semester.

[Q] Coming from India but educated at the RCA, what was your take on the “privilege” discussion via Design and Violence? More specifically, what can we learn from this debate? How can it push speculative design forwards?

[Anab] I sensed an underlying assumption in that debate that anybody from the West was seen as “privileged” and anyone from any other colonised country is not. Whilst there is a long and troubling history to colonisation in India, I do bear in mind that India was always a battleground for clans and dynasties from other countries long before the West came and colonised it. These issues are very complex, and I think the only way we can attempt to understand them is by avoiding accusations and flamewars, but instead opening up space for everyone’s voice to be heard.

As things stands today, even though I come from India, a lot of people would argue that, within India, I am privileged because I had the opportunity to choose my education path and the person I want to marry. On the other hand, I know lots and lots of people in the West (white/male even) who are disempowered because of systemic privilege within the West. So discussions of race, gender expression and privilege are much more granular than simplistic accusations, and I strongly believe that designers who address complex issues, whilst battling student loans and rents, should be applauded, not condemned.

[Q] How can we resist or overcome the situation where avant-garde design practices, established as a resistance to the dominant system, ultimately become appropriated by the system?

If we successfully overturn capitalism, the rest will follow."
superflux  2019  anabjain  jonardern  jamesauger  design  designfiction  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  capitalism  democracy  climatechange  education  marrtive  film  filmmaking  art  artists  potential  inquiry  open-ended  openendedness  hope  globalwarming  future  politics  activism  india  colonialism  colonization  complexity  privilege  openended 
february 2019 by robertogreco
crap futures
[via: https://twitter.com/justinpickard/status/685336107312009217 ]

"Crap Futures is a blog about futures, innovation, politics, technology.

Crap in this context means underwhelming, disappointing, poorly thought out, badly done, inadequate, or sad. Nonsense or drivel.

Crap Futures casts a critical eye on corporate dreams and emerging technologies. It asks questions about where society is heading, who is taking us there, and whether ‘there’ is where we really want to end up.

who we are

James Auger is an Associate Professor at Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, Portugal. On graduating from Design Products at the Royal College of Art in 2001 James moved to Dublin to conduct research at Media Lab Europe (MLE) exploring the theme of human communication as mediated by technology. After MLE he worked in Tokyo as guest designer at the Issey Miyake Design Studio developing new concepts for mobile telephones. Between 2005 and 2015 James was part of the critically acclaimed Design Interactions department at the RCA, teaching on the MA programme and continuing his development of critical and speculative approaches to design and technology, completing his PhD on the subject in 2012. Running parallel to his academic work, James is half of the speculative design practice Auger-Loizeau, a collaboration founded in 2000. Auger-Loizeau projects have been published and exhibited internationally, including MoMA, New York; 21_21, Tokyo; The Science Museum, London; The National Museum of China, Beijing and Ars Electronica, Linz. Their work is in the permanent collection at MoMA.

Julian Hanna is an Assistant Professor at M-ITI. His writing on modernist and avant-garde culture has appeared in academic journals as well as the Atlantic, 3:AM, Berfrois, and elsewhere. Since joining M-ITI in 2013 his research has shifted toward futures studies, digital storytelling, design fiction, and livability."

[from http://crapfutures.tumblr.com/post/133586760654/about-about

"Here’s a bit of background on the authors, in the form of an interview.

James: Julian, as someone coming from literature, etc., what is your interest in the future?

I was never as interested in science fiction, or what I thought was sci-fi, as I was in other types of experimental literature - modernists like Joyce and the sort of stuff you were meant to read in university. At a certain point I had to make up for lost time, and began devouring Bradbury, Le Guin, Wells and the rest. What I did read a lot of during my studies, though, were manifestos - and all those improbable visions of the Futurists and Vorticists and Situationists still shape my thinking about futures, including what we’ll call ‘crap futures’. The Futurist Fortunato Depero, for example, who was a brilliant designer, wanted to design toys that not only stimulated children’s creativity, but also prepared them for the total and perpetual war that the Futurists were always promoting. So that was an early crap future.

But as far as literature informing my thoughts about futures - I remember feeling a mix of gratitude and relief when I heard Warren Ellis’s closing keynote (‘Some Bleak Circus’) at FutureEverything last year. Ellis spoke about the future through manifestos and ideas drawn from literature, and without resorting to a bunch of tech jargon. He looked like a storyteller, sitting in his old leather armchair and reading from a Kindle. That’s when it hit me that talking about the future wasn’t just the business of foresight consultants. But in fact there is a long history - Marshall McLuhan, for example, couldn’t go two pages in a future prophecy without mentioning Finnegans Wake.

The other way I engage with futures is through my training in critical thinking, close reading, and so on. I found I could look at the fictions propagated by the corporate world about possible futures the same way I could look at other types of storytelling. Thankfully this critical approach to futures has been gaining ground in recent years, establishing some much needed resistance to the kind of boosterism that dominates not only the corporate world but also a lot of tech research in the academic sphere. For various reasons the question of why more innovation in needed is far too seldom asked.

Julian: And you, James: as a designer - etc.! - how do you see the future?

It would be fair to say that I am approaching the time of life when men typically become grumpy. I am becoming increasingly grumpy about design and about the future.

As a young design student in the 90s I was proud to be practicing in my chosen discipline and happily set about learning how to develop new products that people might want to own. But looking back I realise that my education (and the majority of other designers’) desperately lacked any critical or philosophical foundation.

Myths taught at design school:

1. Design is good

2. Design makes people’s lives better

3. Design solves problems

Of course design can be and do all of these things but it has become so intrinsically linked to the complex systems of commerce and innovation that it has essentially been reduced to a novelty machine. Optimism is endemic meaning that it is unnatural for designers to think about the implications of their (technological) products: technology is good; products are good; and the future (through technological products) will therefore also be good!

I have recently been thinking a lot about constraints (it is normal for a designer), but going beyond the immediate and obvious such as costs, material, physical etc. to consider what are the constraints that reduce the possibilities of the future, or perpetuate certain trajectories.

Or alternatively the un-constraints of libertarian thinking - the techno-utopian dictatorships of Silicon Valley …

I will explore these over the coming weeks …"]

[See also: http://www.nicolasnova.net/pasta-and-vinegar/2016/1/7/crap-future ]
tumblrs  crapfutures  future  futures  futurism  julianhanna  jamesauger  criticism  innovation  politics  critique  technology 
january 2016 by robertogreco
How design fiction imagines future technology – Jon Turney – Aeon
"As technological choices become ever more complex, design fiction, not science, hints at the future we actually want"



"Design fiction’s efforts to create imaginative realisations of technology, which consciously try to evoke discussion that avoids polarising opinion, have a key ingredient, I think. Unlike the new worlds of sci-fi novels, or the ultra-detailed visuals of futuristic cinema, their stories are unfinished. Minority Report is not about critical design because its narrative is closed. In good design fiction, the story is merely hinted at, the possibilities left open. It is up to the person who stumbles across the design to make sense of how it might be part of a storied future."



Design fiction’s proponents want to craft products and exhibits that are not open to this simplified response, that fire the imagination in the right way. That means being not too fanciful, not simply dystopian, and not just tapping into clichéd science‑fictional scripts. When it works, design fiction brings something new into debates about future technological life, and involves us – the users – in the discussion."



"As design fiction comes to be recognised as a distinctive activity, it will continue to find new forms of expression. The US design theorist Julian Bleecker of the Near Future Laboratory suggests that the TBD Catalog with its realistic depictions of fictional products models a different way of innovating, in which designers ‘prototype and test a near future by writing its product descriptions, filing bug reports, creating product manuals and quick reference guides to probable improbable things’. The guiding impulse is to assist us in imagining a new normality. Design and artistic practice can both do that.

Design fictions are not a panacea for some ideal future of broad participation in choosing the ensemble of technologies that we will live with. Most future technologies will continue to arrive as a done deal, despite talk among academics of ‘upstream engagement’ or – coming into fashion – instituting ‘responsible research and innovation’. The US Department of Defense, for instance, and its lavishly-funded, somewhat science-fictional Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has an extensive catalogue of research and development (R&D) projects on topics from robotics to neural enhancement, selected according to a single over-riding criterion: might they give the USA a military advantage in future? DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office tells us, in a ghastly combination of sales talk and bureaucratese, that it is ‘looking for the best innovators from all fields who have an idea for how to leverage bio+tech to solve seemingly impossible problems and deliver transformative impact’. Here, as in other fields, military, security and much commercial R&D will probably go its own way, and we’ll get weaponised biology whether we like it or not.

For the rest, though, there is a real contribution to be made through a playful, freewheeling design practice, open to many new ideas, and which is technically informed but not constrained by immediate feasibility. There are already enough examples to show how design fiction can invite new kinds of conversations about technological futures. Recognising their possibilities can open up roads not taken.

Design fiction with a less critical (and more commercial) edge will continue to appeal to innovative corporations anxious to configure new offerings to fit better with as yet undefined markets. Their overriding aim is to reduce the chances of an innovation being lost in the ‘valley of death’ between a bright idea and a successful product that preys on the minds of budget-holders.

But the greatest potential of this new way of working is as a tool for those who want to encourage a more important debate about possible futures and their technological ingredients. This is the debate we’re still too often not having, about how to harness technological potential to improve the chances of us living the lives we wish for."
design  designfiction  2105  jonturney  technology  science  participatory  future  complexity  debate  futures  potential  howwelive  lcproject  openstudioproject  darpa  scifi  sciencefiction  change  nearfuturelaboratory  julianbleecker  tbdcatalog  fiction  prototyping  art  imagination  tinkeringwiththefuture  paulgrahamraven  alexandraginsberg  christinapagapis  sisseltolaas  syntheticbiology  alexiscarrel  frederikpohl  cyrilkornbluth  margaretatwood  anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  koertvanmensvoort  hendrik-jangrievink  arthurcclarke  davidnye  julesverne  hgwells  martincooper  startrek  johnunderkoffler  davidkirby  aldoushuxley  bravenewworld  minorityreport  jamesauger  jimmyloizeau  worldbuilding  microworldbuilding  thenewnormal 
march 2015 by robertogreco
New book on 'Design Ethnography' — pasta and vinegar
"Here's the book blurb:
"What do designers mean when they say they’re going to do “ethnography” and “field research”? What are the relationships between observing people and designing products or services? Is there such a thing as a “designerly” way of knowing people? This book is a report from a research project conducted at HEAD – Genève that addressed the role of people-knowing in interaction/media design. It describes the wide breadth of approaches used by designers to frame their work, get inspiration or speculate about plausible futures. This book presents practitioners’ tactics and illustrates them with several cases. Unlike many resources on user-centered design, it takes a broader approach to design by considering cases in which design is not only a problem-solving activity, but a tool to speculate about the near future, reformulate problems or propose a critical discourse on society. In doing so, this book helps designers, students and consultants to challenge their own perceptions and update their approaches."

The book is a collective effort, with texts from John Thackara, Julian Bleecker, Sara Ljungblad, Gilles Baudet, Anab Jain and Jon Ardern, James Auger, Virginia Cruz and Nicolas Gaudron, Liam Young, Fabian Hemmert, Steve Portigal, Gordan Savičić and Selena Savić, Anne-Catherine Sutermeister and Jean-Pierre Greff. 

It can be purchased online here at we-make.it [http://we-make.it/shop/ and http://wemakeitberlin.tictail.com/product/design-ethnography ]"
design  ethnography  designethnography  nicolasnova  johnthackara  julianbleecker  saraljungblad  gillesbaudet  anabjain  jonardern  superflux  jamesauger  virginiacruz  nicolasgaudron  liamyoung  fabianhemmert  steveportigal  books  gordansavičić  selensavić  anne-catherinesutermeister  jean-pierregreff  futurism  speculativedesign  disign  nearfuture  fieldresearch  research  observation 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Questioning the “critical” in Speculative & Critical Design — Designing the Future — Medium
"In the past few days I’ve been following this excellent and profoundly enlightening discussion [http://designandviolence.moma.org/republic-of-salivation-michael-burton-and-michiko-nitta/ ] on MoMA’s Design and Violence page. The conversation, initiated by John Thackara’s comments on Burton Nitta’s project “Republic of Salivation” [http://www.burtonnitta.co.uk/repubicofsalivation.html ], was further developed in the comment section. The issue at stake was the presumed naivety of the project while dealing with a subject that might be dystopian to some, but in some other parts of the world it has been the reality for decades. During the — still ongoing — debate, one of the most pressing issues to emerge was the political accountability of Speculative and Critical Design (from now on, referred to as SCD) or its lack thereof.

When questioned on the validity of a discipline that consistently dismisses and willingly ignores struggles other than those that concern the intellectual white middle classes — precisely the environment where SCD comes from — designer James Auger [http://www.auger-loizeau.com/ ] responded:
What is this obsession with class systems? The UK may have its financial problems but most of us stopped obsessing about these divides in the distant past.

As a brazilian designer based in Germany struggling to understand her position in the blindly privileged environment of SCD, Auger’s reaction sounds all too familiar. Being able to ignore things like class, gender and race is the clearest demonstration of privilege: you don’t notice it (or rather, sometimes knowingly choose not to) precisely because it doesn’t affect you. As a discipline theorised within the safe confines of developed, northern european countries and practiced largely within an overwhelmingly white, male, middle class academic environment, SCD has successfully managed to ignore, or at best only vaguely acknowledge, issues of class, race and gender (with few [http://superflux.in/ ] exceptions [http://sputniko.com/ ]). Instead, the vast majority of the body of work currently available in the field has concentrated its efforts on envisioning near futures that deal with issues that seem much more tangible to their own privileged crowd. Projects that clearly reflect the fear of losing first-world privileges — gastronomical, civil or cultural — in a bleak, dystopic future abound, while practitioners seem to be blissfully unaware (or unwilling to acknowledge, in some cases) of other realities.

The visual discourse of SCD also seems interestingly devoid of people of color, who rarely (if ever) make an appearance in the clean, perfectly squared, aseptic world imagined by these designers-researchers. Couples depicted in these near-future scenarios seem to be consistently heterosexual; there is no poverty, there are no noticeable power structures that divide the wealthy and the poor, or the colonialist and the colonised; gender seems to be an immutable, black-and-white truth, clearly defined between men and women, with virtually no space for trans* and queer identities (let alone queer and trans* voices speaking for themselves). From its visual discourse to its formulations of near-future scenarios, SCD seems to be curiously apathetic and apolitical for a discipline that strives to be a critical response to mainstream perceptions of what design is, and what it should do.

So answering Auger’s pressing question — “What is this obsession with class systems?” —, well: we are obsessed with class systems because we can’t help it. Because, in contrast to most of the practitioners in the field of SCD, we do not have the privilege of not thinking about issues of race, class and gender. Because your dystopia is happening to us right now. It’s happening when we get harassed because of our gender, our class or our ethnicity. It’s happening when a brazilian citizen is killed by british police with no explanation, apology or reason other than being a foreigner [http://www.theguardian.com/uk/menezes ]. It’s happening because where I come from, the reality suggested by The Republic of Salivation isn’t so far-fetched [http://thebrazilbusiness.com/article/cost-of-living-in-brazil-ndash-cesta-basica ]. And because if we don’t call out your privilege — though you dismiss it as “misguided suggestions of privilege” — this is what will keep on happening: SCD will never evolve past a discipline stuck in its own little universe of weather forecasts and smart fridges, incapable of seeing how shallow its own speculations are, and how much more relevant and inclusive they could be.

Right now, SCD’s preoccupations are directed towards nothing more than an alleged “lack of poetic dimensions” in our relationship with electronic objects. The “social narratives” and “criticism” so advertised by the great majority of its practitioners seem to only apply to the aesthetic concerns of the intellectual northern european middle classes. Those dystopian “critical futures” forget (or oversee it for a lack of empathy toward the subject matter) that the very electronic objects that they are talking about not only are — and will continue to be — accessible to a minimum percentage of the world’s population, but also that those who won’t have access to it will likely be exploited to make that reality happen, one way or another. It is extremely frustrating to observe how SCD practitioners depict a dystopian universe where technology comes to paint a world in which their own privileges of their own reality are at stake, while at the same time failing to properly acknowledge that design is a strong contributor to the complete denial of basic human rights to minorities, right here, right now. Those sleek, shiny gadgets and sentient objects and robots SCD designers are keen to portray come only to the aid of white, middle class, cisgendered heterosexual citizens. But no SCD dystopian scenario takes into account that this pervasive “technological menace” will most probably be manufactured in China, Indonesia or Bangladesh (as suggested by Ahmed Ansari [https://twitter.com/aansari86 ] in the comments section in the original post). And I cannot help but reinforce that SCD is a practice whose origins and current developments, so far, happen within colonialist countries.

Despite all of its shortcomings, I do believe that SCD has something necessary and valid to offer to society. I do believe that design is a powerful language, one that it is perfectly positioned to provide relevant social and cultural critique, and that envisioning near future scenarios might just help us reflect on the paths we want to take as a society. In order to truly achieve these goals, however, SCD needs to be held accountable for its political and social positions; it urgently needs to escape its narrow northern european middle class confines; it needs to talk about social change; it needs more diversity, both in its visual representations and in the practitioners in the field. A first step, perhaps, would be to acknowledge that these issues are at stake instead of just dismissing them as useless concerns. Speculative Design can only earn its “Critical” name once it leaves its own comfort zone and start looking beyond privilege, for real.

After all, as brilliantly described by Ahmed in the thread:
The political, economic, social and cultural implications of technologies are never local but always global and systemic — they ripple out and affect people you may never know or see in your lifetime. It’s great to believe in the promise of technological progress when you belong to a class and a society that will directly get to reap its benefits in the end.
via:anne  2014  luizaprado  pedrooliveira  criticaldesign  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  designfiction  priviilege  designimperialism  criticism  design  art  johnthackara  burtonnitta  class  gender  race  speculation  ahmedansari  jamesauger  michaelburton  michikonitta  humanitariandesign 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Design Means… Jimmy Loizeau « Magical Nihilism
"Not being able to focus on anything for long Jimmy Loizeau has a range of sem-skills that include pizza oven and kiln building, Italian roofing, making tortelli and playing table football. In his spare time he designs products that provide a different perspective on how we can interact with technology for better or for worse. Usually based on real life observations they maintain a grip on reality whilst dealing with socio-cultural issues resulting from an increasingly technologically mediated existence. He can plaster fairly well and enjoys building narratives and scenarios as a way of exploring the inevitable consequences as a result of the convergence of people and products."

[See also: http://www.auger-loizeau.com/ ]

[also at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattward/3362042151/ ]
jimmyloizeau  design  technology  generalists  art  communication  future  interaction  jamesauger  interactiondesign  collective  cv  semi-skills  make 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Auger-Loizeau [James Auger & Jimmy Loizeau]
"have been collaborating on projects since the concept of the Audio Tooth Implant was first conceived in October 2000. Recognizing that for each placated consumer of technology there is an unsatisfied, complicated or strange one. Auger-Loizeau combine a range of disciplines including engineering, fine art & product design to build products offering services that contrast and question current design ideology, where development is mostly aimed towards a super-efficient, multi-functional utopia for a homogenous user. Our work is motivated by observations of both everyday and unusual interrelations between users and products as a way to explore the resulting complications and pleasures that create new behaviours, social anomalies, and needs. Through building conceptual products and creating new scenarios and services they hope to instigate a broader analysis of what it means to exist in a technology rich environment and its cultural implications for the present and the near future."
art  communication  design  future  interaction  technology  generalists  jimmyloizeau  jamesauger  interactiondesign  collective 
april 2006 by robertogreco

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